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The case against Keano

While Roy Keane maintains his Stadium of Light exit was the fault of new Sunderland owner Ellis Short, a quick look at Roy’s track-record speaks for itself

Tony Cascarino, 05 Mar 2009

I noticed Roy Keane’s interview the other day, in which he explained how he hadn’t wanted to leave Sunderland, but felt it was impossible for him to continue because he hadn’t hit it off with the majority shareholder Ellis Short.

According to Roy, he’d blanked Short’s phone calls after they lost 4-1 at home to Bolton. Short eventually got through to him, asked him why he hadn’t been answering his phone, and said he wanted to be able to contact him whenever required. Roy said he ‘didn’t like his tone’, so he decided to quit.

When you think about it, it’s hardly outrageous that the owner of a football club should expect to be able to contact the manager. You should be contactable 24 hours a day, that’s part of the job. ‘Not liking his tone’ seems a fairly flimsy excuse for walking out the way he did. I suspect Roy was just sick of the job, and wanted a way out. Unfortunately in life, we all have to make compromises sometimes and meet people halfway, and Roy doesn’t seem to want to do that with anybody. You can’t treat the owner with that kind of contempt, and Short obviously thought ‘sod you, you’re not for me. I run this club and I’m entitled to ask hard questions’.

Roy took exception to Niall Quinn saying they ‘wanted the players to have smiles on their faces’, but I think he took it too literally. It was obvious towards the end that a lot of players were unhappy with his short fuse. I believe the players feared him, and there was a lot of conflict. George McCartney says that ‘under Roy, the lads were a bit disheartened’. Clive Clarke went further, saying that Roy was ‘going around booting chairs and throwing things.’ Knowing Roy, I don’t find that too difficult to believe. He doesn’t deal with people brilliantly, and the Clive Clarke remark was unbelievable. Clarke had a heart attack, which could have killed him, and Roy’s response to this was ‘I’m surprised they found one, you could never tell by the way he plays.’ You just don’t say that sort of thing.

He had a pop at Alex Ferguson, and he mentioned me as well. There’s things I can’t say, but there’s some things I will say. Roy has a bee in his bonnet, he looks for conflict, and he can’t deal with people. He has an awful habit of exaggerating things that should be just shrugged off, and he goes too far. Saipan, the MUTV thing, and now Sunderland... there’s a bit of a pattern there. If I was a chairman, I’d be extremely concerned about employing Roy Keane, with the way he conducts himself. Anyone who doesn’t agree with him is like an enemy. Everything’s black and white. I never had any problems with Roy when we played with Ireland, but I’ve seen that side of him, when he lets rip at people and just goes for the jugular. If he had a couple of drinks on him, he could turn nasty. I’ve seen him let fly a few times. There’s a lot of anger in there, and if he thinks something, he’ll invariably say it out loud.

There seems to be a big sense of relief among the Sunderland lads now that he’s gone, and by all accounts, the atmosphere has improved. His point of view would be ‘I’m not here to cheer people up’, which is fair enough, but you have to strike the right balance. Players like to enjoy what they’re doing. That doesn’t mean you can’t run the club according to strict rules – ruthlessly, if need be – but the players should also enjoy your company and enjoy being around you. Mourinho, Wenger and Fergie have that, and it works for them. They rule by fear in the right way – players aren’t scared of them personally, but they’re scared of letting them down, and they know they’ll be dropped if they don’t perform to the levels the manager expects.

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